Select Daniels Surname Genealogy

Daniel and its patronymic form Daniels derive from the Hebrew scriptural name Daniel, meaning ďGod is my judge.Ē  Its long popularity as a name throughout Europe has come from the Biblical Book of Daniel which described how Danielís life was saved in the lionís cage.  Daniel was also the name of a second century Christian martyr and a ninth century hermit, legends of whose life were popular during the Middle Ages.  

Daniel grew in popularity as a name in England after the Crusades of the 12th century when it was brought back by soldiers or pilgrims returning from the Holy Land
.  Arnaut Daniels from Normandy was a troubador in the court of Richard the Lion Heart around this time.

Select Daniel/Daniels Resources on The Internet

Select Daniel/Daniels Ancestry

Daniel and Daniels have appeared as surnames in various forms throughout Europe.   Today the Daniel name numbers some 20,000 in France and 10-12,000 in Germany; Daniels 4-5,000 in Belgium.  Both Daniel and Daniels appear in England and America.  But Daniels in each case is the more common.

England.  Early spellings were various but probably Danyell was the most common.  The Danyell family of Cheshire dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and was to be found at Daresbury, Over Tabley and Rydelegh. There were also Danyells at Walsoken in Norfolk (and John Danyel a Norwich merchant and its mayor in 1406) and in London and Bristol at this time.    

The transition from Danyell or Danyel to Daniel and later to Daniels began in the 16th century.  For instance:
  • Edward Danyell bought Newbury Manor in Flitton, Bedfordshire in 1524.  His descendants there became Daniel.
  • John Daniell was a wealthy landowner in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire in 1522.  His descendants too became Daniel.
  • and Captain William Daniel, descended from the Cheshire Danyells, was born in Wigan, Lancashire in 1623.
West Country.  The musical Taunton family in Somerset at that time were sometimes Danyel and sometimes Daniel Ė father John a music-maker whose ďharmonious mind made an impression on his sonís genius,Ē his elder son Samuel a poet, and his younger son John a lute player and songwriter. 

Cornwall records showed a prosperous family of Daniels at Truro and Penzance in the early/mid 1600ís and another Daniel family at Zennor (followers of John Wesley) at a slightly later date.

Wales.  The surname Daniel (and sometimes Daniels) was also to be found in Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan in south Wales.  John Daniel established a printing business in Carmarthen in 1784 and was made a freeman of the town in 1800.   Another John Daniel married in Abergwilly some two years later.
Joseph or Job Daniel who lived in Carmarthenshire around this time emigrated to America.  His grandson Jack Daniel founded the Jack Daniel brand of whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1875.   David Daniels was a police constable in Llandeilo in the late 1870ís.  His grandson is the English TV magician Paul Daniels.

The Daniel name also cropped up in Glamorgan.  A Daniel family were seafarers and shipowners out of Penygraig and then out of Morfa Borth near Cardiff from the late 1700ís.  H.W. Harrisonís 1995 book Daniel Family History covered the main Daniel Glamorgan lines

America.  Daniels came first to New England.

New England
.  Robert Daniell and his family from Suffolk were part of the Puritan exodus to the Massachusetts Bay Colony that developed in the 1630ís.  They came to the Watertown settlement along the Charles river in 1636. Robertís descendants in Medfield and Medway became Daniels.  One branch of the family moved to Vermont in the 1770ís and then to Ohio in the 1840ís.

William Daniel was first recorded in Massachusetts when he married Katherine Greenway in Dorchester in 1645.  They settled in Milton and William ran the first tavern there.  Later Daniels (the name also became Daniels) were to be found in New London, Connecticut and nearby Salem.  This line was covered in James Danielsí 1952 book The Daniels Family.

The South.  There were a number of early and noteworthy Daniels in Virginia in the 17th century. 

One line began with Captain William Daniel who was first recorded in Middlesex county, Virginia sometime in the 1650ís.  These Daniels became a distinguished Virginia family.  Their numbers included:
  • Peter V. Daniel, a Supreme Court Justice from 1841 to 1860
  • and that unreconstructed Democrat John W. Daniel, the Virginia Senator from 1891 to 1910
  • while a branch of the family migrated to Kentucky in the 1790ís.  Henry Daniel was elected a Congressman there and later became a successful horse breeder. 
Robert Daniell, the son of a London ship-owner, came to Charleston, South Carolina on his ship Daniell in 1669 and stayed.  He was active in various military expeditions against the Indians and Spanish and was in later life was Governor of both Carolinas.  He died in 1718.

William Daniel was recorded in Halifax county, North Carolina in the 1760ís.  From his line came John Reeves Daniel, a lawyer and politician in North Carolina during the 1840ís and 1850ís.  His son Junius was a Confederate Brigadier General who died of his wounds during the Civil War in 1864.

Thomas Daniel from Ulster arrived with his family at Roanoke island off North Carolina in 1784.  The line through his son Clifford ran to Josephus Daniels, a ship carpenter at Wilmington who was killed on a steamship in 1865 at the end of the Civil War: 
  • his son Josephus, just three at the time, grew up to be a prominent newspaper editor and publisher in New Carolina before he was appointed by President Wilson to be the Secretary of the Navy during World War One.
  • and his son Jonathan was also a newspaper editor and writer
Both were fans and supporters of FDR and the New Deal.

Other Daniels.  Some Daniels came to America from Germany and France and also from Ireland (where their Daniels name was probably a corruption of the Irish McDaniel or McDonnell) and even a few from Scotland.  The actress Bebe Daniels was born into a Scottish family, her father having changed his name in America from MacMeal to Daniels.

Caribbean.  John Daniell, a shipwright, appeared in Barbados in 1655.  Some have linked him with either the Danyells of Cheshire or the Daniells of Charleston.   The Barbadian historian Peter Campbell speculated as follows:

"My guess is that Robert Daniell of South Carolina was a brother or cousin of John Daniell of Barbados.  Robert probably stayed with John Daniell on his way to South Carolina in 1677 and again when he paid a visit to Barbados in 1679."

Whatever his origins he was the forebear of the Bristol-based Daniel family of West India merchants.  His great grandson Thomas acquired the Sunbury plantation in Barbados in 1835 and re-established the family presence on the island.

New Zealand
.  In 1880, at the age of 24, Charles Edward Daniell emigrated from Gloucestershire to New Zealand and was one of the first settlers of Masterton in the Wairarapa region.  He set up a timber mill and then a hardware store and designed and built many of the Wairarapa's large homesteads and farm buildings. Such ventures meant that Daniell was the largest employer in the Wairarapa for many years.  The local historian Tim Shoebridge described his life in his 2009 book The Good Citizen Ė The Life of C.E. Daniell.

Select Daniel/Daniels Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Daniel/Daniels Names

Samuel Daniel was the English poet of the early 1600ís who was for a short time poet laureate.
Jack Daniel
was the American distiller in Tennessee who founded the Jack Daniel whiskey distillery in 1875.
Bebe Daniels
was an American actress, singer and dancer of the 1920ís and 1930ís.
George Daniels who died in 2011 was a contemporary English watchmaker by hand, considered to be the best in the world during his lifetime.
Jeff Daniels
is a well-known American actor and playwright

Select Daniel/Daniels Today
  • 33,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 69,000 in America (most numerous in Florida) 
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page